SUQUAMISH — No one was injured but a man was displaced when a fire caused substantial damage to his home Jan. 7.
Based on evidence at the scene, the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s investigator confirmed that the fire was likely sparked by a pan of grease left on the stove, North Kitsap Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Michele Laboda reported.
“A delay in calling 9-1-1, while the man attempted to fight the flames, likely contributed to extent of the fire’s destruction and officials say the man is fortunate to have escaped injury,” Laboda reported. “Although the fire’s precise cause remains under investigation, the homeowner told firefighters that, before heading out to the store, he had forgotten to turn off the kitchen stove where he’d been heating a pan of grease.”
The man is not insured, but he is receiving assistance through volunteers with the American Red Cross and staying with family members, Laboda reported.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Poulsbo Fire Department and Bainbridge Island Fire Department crews were dispatched to the Geneva Street address at 1:17 p.m. The first crew — responding from NKF&R’s Suquamish station two blocks away – got to the scene within three minutes and found heavy smoke coming from the less than 1,000-square-foot cottage. Firefighters were able to knock down the main fire quickly, but complete extinguishment of all hot spots was more complicated and time-consuming as they dug into multiple layers of materials and a thick covering of moss to access hidden fire within the home’s attic spaces.
“Flames and heat have affected about half of the home while smoke damage has impacted all of the interior spaces,” Laboda reported.
The man told officals that he’d forgotten that he’d been heating a pan of grease before heading out to the store. Upon his return, he discovered thick black smoke coming from the house. Despite the choking fumes, the man entered the house multiple times with buckets of water in an unsuccessful effort to squelch the flames. When it became apparent that the fire was only getting bigger, the man said he finally retreated and called 9-1-1.
Geneva Street was closed to traffic for several hours between Augusta Avenue and 1st Avenue while crews worked.
Fire officials remind the public about the importance of calling 9-1-1 immediately. “Call first and fast to get well-trained and equipped crews to the scene as quickly as possible,” Laboda said.